Reprinted from the Nov. 5th edition of The Jail Report.
Jody Rowland became Edgefield County’s next sheriff after defeating Democratic challenger Roosevelt Young on Nov. 3 with 57.6 percent of the vote.
He replaces Adell Dobey, who is retiring.
Rowland grew up in Edgefield County and has worked the majority of his law enforcement career with the sheriff’s officers in Edgefield and Aiken counties. He told The Jail Report that he thinks his education and experience separated him from his challenger, especially with his training at the FBI National Academy.
While on the campaign trail, Rowland said he heard residents saying that it was time for a change.
“The sheriff’s office was stagnate. The citizens and the sheriff’s office need to be brought up to speed in technology and equipment and numbers of deputies,” he said. “I feel like that is my instruction from the citizens is to make sure we have a professional sheriff’s office.”
He said he will be able to increase the number of deputies and the structure right away once he takes over Jan. 5.
“They are top-end heavy with the way they operate,” Rowland said. “I am going to have an additional supervisor and I’m going to try to break it into three units; investigative, patrol and jail unit.”
He will find a well-seasoned supervisor for each unit, which he expects to make a big difference.
On the campaign trail, he said deputies would complain that they never had a supervisor they could go to to get hard questions answered after 4 in the afternoon.
“They needed management at night and it wasn’t there,” he said.
In addition, the sheriff’s office was taking deputies off the road to run the jail. “The jail needs to stand on its own,” he said.
Rowland is determined to work with the county council and be transparent.
“Council wants a professional agency,” he said. “They want constituents to be satisfied. And the only way they are going to get that done is to know the day-to-day issues going on at the sheriff’s office.”
When he first announced he was running, Rowland pledged to continue Sheriff Dobey’s legacy.
“My hats off to him with the growth that he did accomplish. He got the number of deputies up,” he said.
Dobey also made a good run at animal control. He took that on right after he was elected, Rowland said.
But the agency is not managed properly, with just a sergeant and two deputies working 515 square miles regularly.
“Absolutely unmanageable. The public does not get what it’s paying for. The public safety is not there,” Rowland said. “Being an advocate for the staff is a priority. The citizens know the deputies aren’t being taken care of. The deputies need an advocate, and I intend to be that advocate. I will be county council’s partner to make sure staff is treated properly.”
He said he has had two “nice” conversations with Sheriff Dobey as the transition begins.